Alleged burglar dies after being tied to a tree by homeowner - FOX10 News | WALA

Alleged burglar dies after being tied to a tree by homeowner

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An alleged burglar died while tied to this tree, authorities said. (Photo: FOX10 News) An alleged burglar died while tied to this tree, authorities said. (Photo: FOX10 News)
MOBILE, AL (WALA) -

The Washington County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of an alleged burglar who was tied to a tree by a homeowner.

It happened on Spurgeon Road in Leroy late Friday night.

The homeowner is still being questioned.

"I would say this is a very unusual case," said Washington County Sheriff Richard Stringer.

Stringer has interviewed 68-year-old Nathaniel Johnson all night in the county jail.

Deputies say his attempt to catch an alleged burglar went wrong, killing 31-year-old Cleveland Gully, who lives nearby.

Gully's uncle is in disbelief his nephew is gone.

"I was surprised that it happened,” Michael Gully said. “He just wasn't a violent person that I know of."

According to the story Johnson told deputies, his home had been robbed before, and he wasn't letting it happen again.

To make it seem like no one was home, the sheriff said, Johnson hid his car down at a neighbor's house. He then walked over here to his home where, the sheriff said, he waited inside.

Deputies say with the lights off and an old sideview car mirror positioned near the window Johnson sat by the back door.

Around 10 p.m., deputies say Cleveland Gully broke the lock, and that's when Johnson tackled him to the ground, tied his hands behind his back and brought him to the  tree.

"He began to tie him to the tree still in the standing up position," Stringer said.

The sheriff said Johnson used electrical wire and rope from a clothesline to tie him to the tree and then masking tape -- "multiple layers of masking tape that he had wrapped around his mouth and all the way around his head."

FOX10 News was told Johnson then left to get a neighbor and call the sheriff's office, but when deputies arrived Gully was already dead.

The cause of death still unknown.

"I don't think he was intending to kill the intruder," Stringer said. "I think he wanted to capture him and have him arrested."

Jonhson's niece said she still trying to piece together the story herself.

Simone Johnson said, "He doesn't bother anybody. He'll help you if you need helping, so the family just hates what happened. I know the other guy. His family is hurting too, but we are also and we hate that, and I hope that we can just get this resolved soon."

The sheriff said Johnson will be held for at least 72 hours as officials wait for forensic evidence.
Johnson is not facing charges at this time.

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